Enhancing sustainability

As the world’s population continues to grow, we face the collective challenge of meeting people’s everyday needs in a way that our planet can sustain. Ten years ago Walmart set out in earnest to find a more sustainable approach to our retail business. We set long-term goals to operate with 100 percent renewable energy, to create zero waste in our own operations and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. 

Along the way, we have deepened and broadened our aspirations for sustainability. What began as a focus on sustainable operations and products has now evolved into an effort to help rewire whole supply chain systems. Our focus on renewable energy has broadened into an effort to combat climate change across supply chains. Our focus on reducing our own operational waste has broadened into helping foster a circular economy, in which materials can be repurposed and continually recycled. And our focus on selling sustainable products has broadened into an attempt to address social and environmental hot-spots along product supply chains: not only reducing emissions and waste, but also preserving natural capital, enhancing food security, promoting transparency and quality of products and supporting the safety and dignity of workers in supply chains. 

While we have made progress, much more needs to be done. The scope of change we are undertaking requires collective action, and we have been collaborating with customers, suppliers, other retailers, nonprofit organizations and governments to accelerate and increase impact. For our part, we are bringing our relevant strengths to bear, including customer and supplier relationships, purchase orders, philanthropy, voice, physical assets, and capabilities in sourcing, logistics, technology, operations and marketing, to name a few. This is a whole-company undertaking – from merchants to marketers, engineers to truck drivers, store associates to agronomists – we're all involved in some way to further our sustainability efforts. 

While essential for society, enhancing sustainability also makes good business sense. It strengthens our customer relationships, whereas we advocate not only for low cost but for low true cost in supply chains. It enhances efficiency by reducing inputs and waste, and it increases the long-term viability of our product supply. Our stakeholders want to know that the world’s largest company is doing its part as we all strive for a more sustainable future. 

The following section describes our recent efforts and progress in six priority programs:

Reducing energy intensity and emissions, by

  • Reducing energy intensity and emissions in our own operations
  • Supporting the reduction of emissions in product supply chains

Moving to a zero waste future, by

  • Eliminating waste in our own operations
  • Improving packaging and product design 
  • Expanding recycling through education and improved infrastructure 

Preserving natural resources, especially forests and water, by

  • Getting to zero net deforestation